Police to sensitise personnel on handling juvenile cases
The Assam police is set to conduct sensitisation programmes for its officials following the death of 14- year-old boy Raja Ali in custody after he was allegedly abused by the police and the subsequent arrest of three cops.
After three policemen were arrested in October for the alleged torture and abuse of a minor which led to his death in custody, the Assam police has decided to conduct sensitisation of its officials for better handling of cases related to children.
Guwahati police commissioner, Hiren Nath, said “We will soon conduct sensitisation of all police officers, especially regarding their behavioural aspects towards children. We have also spoken to some of the NGOs regarding the same and will start the programme very soon. ”
He added that they had recently held a sensitisation programme for their officials and constables which was conducted by the Indian Skill Academy, in which 125 officials were trained in behavioural aspects.
The infamous incident took place last February after a 14-year-old boy, Raja Ali, was arrested on charges of theft and kept in police custody overnight at Bharalumukh police station. This was a violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, which states that a child alleged to be in conflict with law should only be kept at an observation home until he can be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board.
Raja was then sent to the juvenile home in Boko after being presented before the Juvenile Justice Board. However, the boy had to be taken to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital after he complained of uneasiness where he later died due to organ failure, according to sources.
Raja’s family had alleged that he was thrashed during police custody which led to his death. This has fuelled a controversy over the conduct of police personnel with regard to their treatment of juveniles in conflict with law.
On the other hand, the investigating officer of the case, assistant commissioner of police Pranjal Bora, filed a chargesheet recently. He said, “The chargesheet has been filed under sections 302, 466, 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act.”
Child rights activist Miguel Das Queah—who had filed a complaint about the case to the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) -- told G Plus that he will seek compensation for the victim’s family.
Speaking about the background of Raja’s family, Queah said, “The family’s financial condition is poor and Raja’s father works as a guard. His grandmother had brought him up while working as a domestic help. He also has a younger brother who is differently-abled.”
However, recently, one of the three police officials, retired sub-inspector Tamizuddin Ahmed, who was arrested in connection with the case, died at the Guwahati Central Jail last week adding a fresh twist to the episode. Ahmed’s family has alleged that he was murdered following a conspiracy by the two other police officers arrested in the case.
CWC and Childline see maximum cases related to child labour
Child labour still makes for the majority of cases received by the child protection authorities including the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and Childline in Guwahati.
Chairperson of the CWC Kamrup Metro, Jitu Dutta, said that child labour is still prevalent in the district and they receive several cases of rescue of child labourers every month.
“This could also be possible due to the increase in awareness among citizens that more such cases are being reported and are coming to light,” informed Dutta. He added that places which are connected by railway communication see more cases of children who run away from their families without any means.
Further, the committee members sometimes also chance upon the rescue of the same child twice or thrice. This happens due to the poor financial condition of the child’s family and because of the absence of awareness among parents, an official said. They feel that until parents are not motivated to stop forcing their children to work in menial jobs, it will be very difficult to eliminate child labour altogether.
According to officials, the CWC has also been witnessing a rise in the reported number of child sexual abuse cases. “For the past few months, the committee has been receiving one or two cases of child sexual abuse every month. Before this, almost no cases were reported to us under this category,” said Dutta.
Similarly, Guwahati’s Childline-- a programme under the ministry of women and child development meant for the safeguard of children in need of care and protection-- received 210 “protection from abuse” cases between April and September this year. Childline authorities said that around 80% of these were related to child labour.
Operation Muskaan-III hailed successful by authorities
Child protection authorities in the city hailed Operation Muskaan-III, an initiative meant to rescue and recover missing children in need of care and protection, as successful. These include child labourers, missing children and trafficking victims among others.
This project was operational in the state from July 1 to July 31 this year. “As a result of the project, missing children were being identified and located more quickly. It has had a positive impact overall, as with information sharing between different stakeholders, process of rescue gained speed,” said Childline Guwahati coordinator, Nirmal Deka. He added that recoveries and reporting has been increasing continuously as people have become more conscious.
Inspector General, CID, Surendra Kumar also mentioned that the third edition of Operation Muskaan did very well in Guwahati and that they received a very encouraging response from people belonging to different sections of society.
Police officials said that they are still in the process of compiling data to ascertain the total number of children rescued under the project this year.